I read this while on a camping trip, sitting in the dappled shade of a pine tree. All that was blotted out by the hopelessness and misery of this story. I mistakenly thought it was autobiographical and didn't realize until after finishing it that it was fiction.
This is a story of a young Vietnamese girl who grows up in North Vietnam during the 70's and 80's. The communist regime's repression separates her family and she is caught between the two sides, a pawn in their battle to eek out some meaning in life.
I felt the author wanted us to see the government as being responsible for the attitudes and actions of the characters. However, I felt the traditional role of women in Vietnamese culture was more to blame. The subservient, fatalistic attitude of the main character, her mother and aunt made me want to scream at them. Their resignation to fate persisted throughout the story, making it difficult to read for me.
The book is banned in Vietnam where it is considered subversive by the government. The author is now exiled in Paris and continues to write of her homeland.
Published: 2002 Read: October 2012 Genre: Fiction